Day 2: Roscommon - Lisdoonvara 159 km. The rollercoaster.

Day two.  Awoke to more soft weather.  Or as we say in Boston, frickin' pourin'.

On the agenda was 160km west past Galway to the Atlantic coast.  An up and down coast road south before two categorized climbs up to the town of Lisvardona- the matchmaking capital of Ireland.

Both climbs were in the last 10 miles. The smart strategy would been to hold fire till then.
Rain, capes and shoe covers.  Welcome to cycling, the Keltic way.
Of course the rain and good sensations in the legs put that plan out the window. Rolling out of town I found myself at the front.  Probably too much.

As we headed west, the road got progressively hillier. Through fields of green with ancient stone walls.  Punctuated by the occasional 21st century buildings.  It was a ride that seemed to toggle in and out of centuries:  mystical Celtic Ireland, interspersed with Celtic tiger building boom hangover.

We went through Anthenry.  Aaron McCormack, our Ulster pal also from Boston and I piped up in our best on-the-bike rendition of what's become Ireland's national sporting supporter anthem, 'The Fields of Anthenry'.  The fields were there, but I didn't see any seabirds flying in the pouring rain and mist.

We hit the coast road and it was all up and down.  Heavy rough irregular. Constant gear changes.  The legs felt it.

"Eddy O how you doing?" It was Paul, coming up from a long siesta at the back with Alan.

"Pretty good, but legs are getting a little tired" I replied.

"Mistake number one", Paul laughed, "a pro never tells anyone if his legs are bad!"

The coast road got harder and harder.  The one-two of the final climbs approached. Paul and Alan shed rain capes on the fly.  Less adept at doing that, I kept mine on.  Another mistake.

We hit the bottom of the first and Alan immediately hit the front, his flyweight 130 pounds powering up the 8-10% grade like Lucien van Impe.  I followed Paul as long as I could, but after 90 miles and too much work the legs gave out.  I had to let the vanguard of a dozen or so ride away.

In no mans land, fanning a 34 x 19.  Aaron McCormack came by, spinning fast and looking good.  I couldn't jump on.  I linked up with two more stragglers cast off from group on, and we bombed down trying to close 200 meters.  But the front was going away.

On the last climb I came back to Paul getting back on after someone took him down.  Big brother Alan waited (unlike me) and towed him back.  I was treated to two raging McCormacks dancing by me, out of the saddle, sprinting away up the steep grade.  At that moment, I couldn't summon their power for a million bucks.  They were gone.
Lisdoonvarna matchmaking capital of Ireland.  I was a little overmatched trying to hold these two guys on the wall into town... but there's always tomorrow cafe supporters!

The final KOM climb was a winding wall.  I groveled up in 34 x 25.  Paul later said he zig-zagged his 39 x 25. After 95 miles, it was super hard.  I just rolled in with a chasing group.  First climbing test?  C minus. Bad omen for the Kerry mountains.

45 min transfer to the Merriman hotel, and it was time to wash and dry clothes again.  A daily ritual now.

Paul treated the road rash on hip and knee.  Liquid bandage spray was deployed to good, if stinging effect.

He wasn't the only casualty today unfortunately.

There was a nasty shunt at speed that took down Emma, one of our woman riders.  She was pretty shaken up but I'm happy to hear she'll continue the Ras tomorrow.  Emma's one tough Irish girl!  Then another new friend, Niall, was taken out by someone trying to sprint to the finish line despite the "no sprint just-all-roll-in-together" intention of this fundraising ride.  Some guys just can't control themselves...

Was glad to get this day behind me.  Praying for better legs tomorrow.  Abstained from Guinness temptations offered by Brian Mac, who's just been incredible in looking after his two brothers, me and every one of the other 25 passengers on his coach bus.

Comments

  1. hang in there Fast Eddie.....all of us shlumps back here typing on keyboards are living vicariously through your ride through the Ras. But don't pass up on the Guiness and they say that it is sunny in Ireland someday. Who knows what day that will be but hopefully when you are plowing up the Kerry's.

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